How do my Issues with Sleep Affect my Social Security Disability Claim?

When considering an application for Social Security disability benefits (or if you’ve started an initial application already), it is not always clearmay not be (or may not have been) apparent what types of issues should be presented to the Social Security Administration (SSA).  One of the commonly overlooked problems that seem to impact our disability claimants, whether they are suffering from physical problems or mental health problems, is the issue of one’s sleep.

Issues with one’s sleep can creep on you.  It may start off as simply as causing an occasional issue with falling.  At first it may not be as pervasive and may only be an occasional day where it becomes a bit more difficult to fall asleep, or it may be an occasional getting up in the middle of the night.  However, if such problems are causing an individual to lose sleep on any consistent basis (even a day per week), this can cause one difficulty getting up in the morning to get ready for work (or for that matter, may cause an individual difficulty with staying alert and being able to concentrate on the tasks at hand at a job setting.

There are a number of reasons one may have a sleep disorder, and it’s entirely appropriate (in fact, essential) that these types of issues be placed front and center of one’s application for Social Security disability benefits.   One may be suffering from orthopedic problems (whether it be a low back problem that may involve issues including sciatica, or knee or hip problems stemming from arthritis that may or may not have required surgical intervention) or mental health issues (such as anxiety at night, causing one to have racing thoughts which may keep one up at night, or even nightmares resulting from issues involving Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, that is, PTSD).   Likewise, we frequently represent clients who are experiencing problems with their sleep as a result of a sleep disorder such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.   All of these conditions can and many times do interrupt an individual’s sleep at night and cause them to feel exhausted in the morning.  Likewise, we find that the side effects to certain medications (for example, steroids such as Prednisone) can have an adverse impact on one’s sleep.

As a Social Security lawyer in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we have seen first hand how our clients many times find themselves having a difficult time getting out of bed in the morning, having finally fallen back to sleep at 5 AM, for example.  And on these certain days, our clients will then find themselves sleeping in until later in the morning to catch up on missed sleep.  Or they may find themselves waking up only to find that after an hour or a few hours that they are lying on the couch or going back to bed for a nap.

It’s important to understand that the Social Security disability rules are intended to provide benefits to those who are unable to perform substantial gainful employment for what will be a year or longer.  And so, if an individual is going to find themselves coming in late to work, leaving work early or calling out of work entirely even 2 or more days per month as a result of a sleep disruption issue stemming from what is a medically determinable impairment that is found to be severe, SSA is going to find that the individual is incapable of any manner of gainful employment.  Likewise, assuming an individual is feeling sleep deprived and is finding that they are off task for what is just more than 10% of the work day as a result of their inability to focus on their tasks, this alone can cause one to be deemed totally disabled under Social Security’s rules.

Unfortunately, many of our Social Security disability clients who are suffering from such issues find it very difficult to think clearly and focus on the task at hand.  This can make it extremely difficult to complete the Social Security disability application and appeals forms in a complete and clear manner.  This is another area in which an experienced Social Security disability lawyer can make all of the difference in your case.

If you or someone you love is experiencing either physical or mental health disabilities that is causing not only their sleep to be disrupted but also their ability to keep a job given attendance and performance issues, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 to find out how we might be able to assist you with the Social Security disability process.